Art

Man with a Passion for Glass

When meeting West Virginia native and glass artist Ron Hinkle you are talking with a craftsman who has spent a life time working in West Virginia glass. A man who is passionate about keeping the tradition alive and educating every one he comes in contact with about its importance to West Virginia history.glass tank with pipe close up

West Virginia was once known as the number one producer of tableware glass and crystal in the United States. Early in the 20th century, Fostoria glass company of Wheeling, West Virginia employed more than 900 workers, making it the largest glass tableware factory in the country.In addition to table wares, factories across the state produced plate-glass for windows, pressed glass bottles,jars and marbles.Fortunately for workers in West Virginia, the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company located one of its plants in Clarksburg in 1916, and the Libbey-Owens-Ford Company established a plant in Charleston in 1916, sustaining the industry in the Mountain State into the 1970’s.  Buy the mid 1950’s Louie Glass in Weston,West Virginia is said to have made over 50% of all the table wear glass in the United States. Even with reduced production caused by the importation  of cheep glass from Mexico and China some companies continue the tradition of hand blown glass in the state.Ron Hinkel in his glass blowing studio 2-17-17

Blenko Glass in Milton,West Virginia is known for its vivid colors of hand blown glass. The  historic business has faced many challenges in its 100 years of production. Ron says “The thing that makes them[Blenko Glass] endearing,is the same thing that makes them struggle.”So today Ron Hinkle works diligently as Vise President to make sure that the history and tradition of West Virginia glass continues into the future. With years of experience in every position in the factory, from bit boy to blower, Ron has a unique view of the factory glass business. His success as a glass artist within his home studio also brings the company a creative way of looking at its historic products.Together these skills work to keep blown glass alive in West Virginia.

blenko glass

vivid colors of Blenko glass over the years

Ron’s fascination for glass began at the age of twelve when he discovered the mysterious qualities of melted glass, melting glass tubes from a chemistry set over his mother’s kitchen stove. Following that interest Ron took a job at a local glass factory while in high school and continued to work  near by,in Weston at the Louie Glass for the following twenty years. Working every job in the factory, Ron learned a wide verity of skills and  soon was experimenting with art glass.Ron found making the intricate designs within paper weights  fascinating. With little money and over 4 years Ron personally built his own glass blowing studio,the holding tank and glass furnace. He refurbished tools and struck out on his own.Ron says,” never make choices that you can’t recover from.” Building and expanding  his art glass business slowly even when at times he was overwhelmed with orders.

Ron Hinkel spinning a dish of glass

Ron Hinkle spins a blue candy dish at his home studio in Buckhannon, WV.

Child's Vase 2

Beautiful examples of Ron’s Work available on his website Child’s Vase 

Ron Hinkle bottels

Small potion bottles available on-line at http://www.ronhinkleglass.com.  

 

The quality of the glass products that Ron creates has made his work collectible around the county and is available in 37 states and at times internationally. In 2005 the company changed names and simply became Ron Hinkle Glass. His work has appeared numerous times on the West Virginia’s Governor’s Christmas tree and the Christmas Peace Tree at the White House in Washington D.C. He is the creator of “While You Were Sleeping” a massive glass installation in the grand hall of the Culture of the WV State Capitol Complex that was then moved to its permanent home at the Archaeological  Complex at Moundsville, West Virginia. He has been written about extensively and gained many collectors over the years.Ron Hinkel display moundsville

Ron Hinkle represents what is best about West Virginia  Artists in so many ways. He is a man of faith that has taken a historic craft that at one time incorporated 474 factories in our state and brought it to the community in a new way. He took time to learn from past masters and kept our culture and history alive.He is currently passing those skills on to Aaron Harvey,studio assistant and co-worker at Blenko. He is a family man who is welcoming to every one he meets and he shares his passion with all of us.

Aaron Harvey assisting at Ron Hinkle glass

Arron Harvey learning about glass from Ron Hinkle at his home studio and newest employee at Blenko glass as designer of new products.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Art, Buckhannon West Virginia, gifts, Upshur County West Virginia, West Virginia artists | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Elkins Main Street Creates a Heritage Quilt Block Trail

Following in the same tradition as Barn Quilt Trails of other rural counties, Elkins Main Street begins the process of creating their own Heritage Quilt Block Trail. Located within the downtown historic district of Elkins, West Virginia, community groups come together to support public art and beautification.

With guidance from the Pocahontas County Arts Counsel, The Pen2Paper.org web site “How to Make a Barn Quilt” and many local artist and supporters, we have gathered the best information possible on how to build our own quilt block murals. The four large 8X8 foot painted panels represent 4 traditional quilt patterns used in Appalachian quilts of the area. The large panels will be mounted on the outside of downtown buildings, have an interpretive  map made up of other quilt blocks locations and tell the story of the historical significance of each pattern when all four are completed.

The patterns painted on the blocks represent things that are commonly found in West Virginia and bring to mind the beauty and tradition of quilt making in our local history. The first pattern that is now finished is the “Maple Leaf” pattern.  This brightly colored quilt block will be the first to be installed in the downtown. It will be proudly displayed on the brickwork of the Elkins YMCA. Working on these panels we have members of the local Generation Randolph business development group, service members from AmeriCorps,  Mountain Arts District members and a team from Youthbuild who all work together to prepare and paint the 8 foot X 8 foot panels.AmeriCrops working on Hertiage Quilt Block Panels

Service Members of AmeriCorps: Dominic Piacentini, Molly Greenhouse, Kate Sammons and JoLynn Powers

The second pattern is the traditional pattern of the “Log Cabin”, with the center being bright red to symbolize the heart of every home. It is the most common pattern of all the ones we are making for the trail.

The Third pattern is the Pine Tree that students at Youth Build, a local technical school, are taking on a large portion of the painting as part of their training.

The fourth and final pattern is the “West Virginia Star” with bold Blue and Gold Coloring.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Mountain Arts District members Anne Beardslee, Josie Cuda, Frank Cuda and Dominic Piacentini

The Heritage Quilt Block Trail of Elkins will add a warm, friendly feel to downtown that will encourage people to spend more time in the area.The trail is also a way for the public to get involved in making the town more beautiful, remind the public of our unique history and enjoy art in a public setting.

As the project finishes up and the murals are mounted on buildings around downtown, I hope to document their final placement.I hope to do a presentation with photos and Powerpoint about what we have learned, what we did right and wrong, and how it affects the people of Elkins. Maybe making a small statement about the power of art and how it can bring a community together.

Categories: AmeriCorps, Art, community service, DIY projects, Elkins Main Street, Elkins West Virginia, public art, quilts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Salt Dough Holiday Ornaments with Kids of All Ages

My older son Cody has always made my life more fun with his unexpected ideas. So you never know what the boy has planned when you see him. Some times its,”Mom you got to see this” or “Mom how do you make this” or “you need to try this”… it is always so much fun when he is around. So the weekend before Halloween ( at little late I know). He arrives at our house for the usual Sunday Dinner with bags of stuff in his hands and the granddaughter  so excited trailing behind him. My daughter in law Jamie explains the Cody wants to make Play-Dough at my house that Sunday afternoon ( he never warms me we are going to make a mess). After looking over the ingredients I quickly realized that what he had brought was not Play-Dough ingredients buSalt Dough ingredients.

Salt dough decorations

Salt dough decorations

Salt dough is a wonderful inexpensive way for kids of all ages ( 4-48 this day) to mold and bake decorations, figures, or models. This dough can be colored and baked to make the craft hard and dry so it will last for years. The hard dough decorations can be painted and sealed with any clear coat. The dough is non-toxic and eating it will not hurt the youngest of artist… but be warned it is very salty.

So with all of us in the kitchen together  we mixed up a large batch of dough. Cody then took the dough and broke it into smaller pieces and added food coloring. All I had on hand was Easter neon colors so we had very bright colors to work with. We gave Christopher and Paige each 4 small bowels of colored dough and turned them loose with my cookie cutters, rolling-pin, tooth picks and watched the fun. With in minuets we were all making things too…

Jamie Powers and Paige Powers making Salt Dough decorations

Jamie Powers and Paige Powers making Salt Dough decorations

Salt Dough family time

Salt Dough family time

I even joined in the fun and made some decorations too. The decorations had both a Christmas feel and a Halloween feel so we covered both holidays with some of our creations. When all the dough was gone I put two full cookie sheets in the oven to bake. I did notice that we made very thin decorations and they do not take as long as the directions say to dry. Worried that at some point they would burn, I reduced the length of cooking time 15 minutes.

Sponge Bob and Patrick salt dough decorations

Sponge Bob and Patrick salt dough decorations

 

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Salt dough ninja

Salt dough ninja

 

So have fun this holiday season, break out the cookie cutters that have not been used for a year and make some lasting decorations with the kids. The kids and grand kid played for about 3 hours making things and baking them before dinner. Now both little ones have home-made decorations for this years trees.

 

Salt Dough: hardening dough

4 cups flour

1 cup fine crystal salt not sea salt

1 1/2 to 2 cups water

mix until can be worked with fingers like heavy bread dough

bake finished work in oven at 300 degrees for up to an hour.

( I bake ours for about 45 minutes because they were so thin)

let cool and paint, glue and decorate and enjoy!

 

Salt dough skull

Salt dough skull

 

Categories: Art, Christmas, crafts, family fun, Halloween, Holidays, Home Decor | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Making a gift from the heart

My sweet little grand-daughter turned 4 this month.If any of you have small children in your family you understand the problem with giving them gifts. It seems that small children attract people who love to buy gifts. As they grow older the pile of gifts slowly shrinks until at 19 or 20 you are lucky if your own parents remember your birthday. So as this young lady is so loved I had to really think over what we wanted to give her. I didn’t want to add to the pile of toys that she already had and some how I wanted to give her something that would last past her fickle little girl loves of Minnie Mouse and the movie Frozen. So after talking with her mother and my husband we came up with the idea of making her a toy box.

We wanted to make one that hopefully would stay with her until she at least reached her preteen years. So while I was out-of-town Tom was able to get the supplies and assemble the box portion of the gift. Then when I returned home I painted the box with several coats of white enamel paint.

white toy box freshly painted

white toy box freshly painted

I talked with my son and his wife about what they wanted on the toy box. I could get stencils and put images of Disney Characters or even just put a decal on the box but I quickly realized that they thought that a painting of a horse would be something she would grown into and that it would be so nice for her room. Well that opened up a whole new idea for me.

I do like to paint and have a back ground in art, but the one thing I have never painted or even tried to paint was horses. It is hard to believe but they are my greatest fear in all the subjects I could attempt. I spent years raising, grooming, feeding and caring for loads of horses. I have spent hours photographing them but never ever drawing or painting them. I have no idea why.. I just never thought I could do them justice. They are so amazing and powerful just thinking about it I get over whelmed. So how do you over come a fear that has lasted over 20 years? You have a 4-year-old tell you ” I want ponies MaMa” and you just jump in and hope to not drowned.

So after a few days I found what I thought would look good. No ” My Little Pony” stuff on this box.I got approval from mom and dad and started the hours of covering the front of this toy box into a horse-box.

blocked in colors of horse toy box

blocked in colors of horse toy box

The process took about 10 hours from sketching to final clear coat. Several times I thought I had a total mess on my hands as I progressed through the layers of paint. I would paint a while and let it dry and walk away for a few days and try another coat and another fix. Each time as I sat at my kitchen table with the huge box on top of it I would think. Horses? Why Horses? I have no experience at this and I am sure it will look like I have no idea what am doing.

final coat of paint close up or horse toy box

final coat of paint close up or horse toy box

So the finale painting will pass as for a 4 years old toy box. I can still see my mistakes but, I am so glad that some how a 4-year-old was able to make me stretch my skills. She was able to make me face a fear I have had for years. I am so glad that we made this gift for her and that maybe she will keep it and some day share it with her little girl. It is truly a gift from my heart and made me so happy to see her love it !

Paige A Powers 4th birthday

Paige A Powers 4th birthday

 Happy Birthday Paige you Ma Ma thinks the world of you!

Categories: Art, Birthday, Family, gifts, heirlooms, Horses, Paige | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Power in Not Being Trendy

I was never popular and trendy in school, were you? I was always the outsider looking in. I always wondered who made up the rules and who said that this was the best way to look and act. Often times I have found that my creative nature is the reason for my lack of being trendy. I was never drawn to the pre-made formula that is followed by the cool people. Many of my friends back then and still today are aspiring  artist, actors, musicians and writers. People who found the individual much more important than mass appeal. I still feel this way and find at times that I am still fighting the same old battles with myself again. I want more people to read my blog, but at what cost? I want my writing  friendly,welcoming and good for any age reader. I never want someone to feel that my writing is critical or hate filled or overly offensive. I must be true to myself and hope for the best when it comes to the popularity contest of the internet. But who are we kidding, the internet is just like middle school where bad taste is cool  and the rest of us just get passed over.

totally uncool in high school. 1986

totally uncool in high school. 1986

I know that I am not the only one who finds popular culture shallow and boring? I have found myself following a bunch of blogs that have some huge followings and discovering that I had to stop reading them. Maybe I am to old…being 45, maybe I want to much from other bloggers, maybe I am just finding the topics of conversation shallow. I find it hard to believe how many followers some blogs have and the amount of cuss words that are in each paragraph. It made we wonder about my blog again.

The conversion inside my head went like this.” Wow I really must be doing some thing wrong if ———( you fill in the blank)’s blog has been Freshly Pressed and got 1000 followers over the course of  a month.They must have something important to say if they are this popular with only 12 posts. I must read the rest of these posts to see what it is that makes this blog so trendy. I am sure that I can learn some thing from this author. OOOOPS, well I am not finishing all these posts, how can I even get through this one? What a total wast of time. I guess it is back square one. If this is what it takes to get followers I am in real trouble again.”

Well I did read some of the posts and found that every post was a confrontation, a middle finger in the readers face. I also discovered that every paragraph had at least one “F” word in it. The topics were about hate, destruction and rebellion. I got the impression that as long as I  wrote about how screwed up everything is, I would be a topical writer and a head liner. If I exposed every flaw I found at other blogs and wrote about how terrible their grammar and spelling was then I would be viewed as an expert.

It would all be a lie. I am to passionate of a person to spend a large portion of my free time trying to write a post that will get all the hipsters here reading every week. I will never say anything controversial enough to incite a blog word war. I am to sensitive about others feelings to slam another persons hard work with hateful words of criticism.

self Portrait with book 6-2014

self Portrait with book 6-2014

So in the end I feel empowered and don’t have to worry about being cool. I am free to write for the pleasure of it. The way creative people have been doing it since the pen hit the paper. I find that not being trendy leads me to wider topics and deeper feeling and more artful expression. Some days I just have to remind myself this is not a competition about who is the most trendy and remember that this is about letting you see my world through my words and nothing more. If one day my youngest son reads these words and loves them then I have reached my target audience and the rest is for the joy of it.

Christopher on swing set

Christopher on swing set

 

Categories: About me, Art, blogging, trends, writing | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

The Challenged Writer, Blogging with Dysgraphia/ Dyslexia

Train Bridge at Black Water Falls State Park, WV

Train Bridge at Black Water Falls State Park, WV

The conversation at my resent book club meeting swirled with questions about not only our resent read,”Triptych” by Karen Slaughter but also about how people live and work with learning disabilities.The protagonist of  Triptych, Will Trent suffers from Dyslexia. As I have first hand knowledge, we spent more then the usual time discussing how I survived my education, how and why I even attempted college, and why I write a blog now. I write as a hobby and why I do it is a question that keeps coming up in my blog and from friends and family. So to clarify  I though I would write another post on some of the things that I face when I came to the realization that I really did want to write as a hobby.

The photo above is a metaphor of how most Dyslexic/ Dysgraphics think and how we some times make connections that others do not. Universally most of us with this learning disability are intuitive and can get the over all meaning or concept of an idea quickly and may jump from idea to idea with out the need of fact-finding information or research to support an idea. Like this bridge my mind arches over a lot of numbers, details, research data to understand the over all idea being expressed. I don’t need the support of facts to understand the concept and the more data that is given to me the more confusing the idea becomes. Then to take it a step further, If some one is teaching me something new, and I understand the steps involved to take on the new skill, I will most likely just jump ahead and figure out the next step in the process on my own or may even find a new way to finish the process in a new way. So my mind is constantly linking  bridges over ideas. Touching on the topic and leaping forward to the next landing to get enough information to leap off again. The problem is that you must at some point be able to show how the bridges link. You must support the information or idea that you are using and learning. This is where the problems lie.

To explain and support ideas you have to write about them, prove them with scientific method or mathematics. All of which are troublesome for most of us with this learning disability. My personal problem is with letter and number recall and recognition. My brain translates the world in a symbolic way. Meaning that I read and translate my world more through a group of images and understand their meaning rather than individual letters and numbers. I would have been a perfect scribe in Egypt when hieroglyphics were the modern written language, as this is how I process information.  So I see letters and numbers as more of a shape than an individual character.  So letters and numbers that look similar get confused easily.

Letters of confustion

Letters of confusion

to this list I would add, W-M, M-N, W-V,  Then some of the numbers that are just as confusing are the numbers

5-6, 3-8 and sometimes 9-6. So let me explain this in another way.  If I were to show you a photo of a Yield Sign… like this

yeild sign

You would normal say that you know this shape and know its meaning even without the written words.” Stop” signs are the same way… but what if you turn them on their sides or turn them up side down? Dose that change the meaning of the Stop sign? Dose the caution needed when seeing this Yield sign change if it is on its side or upside down,… not  really. Even if we see an upside down Stop sign or a ” caution sign”  side ways we can finger out the meaning of the sign. This is not true when it comes to letters or numbers, the letter b does not  have the same meaning as the letter d although they appear as the same symbol just back words. So with the confused rules  of reading and writing words become a challenge to decode. Now string lots and lots of confusing letters and numbers into a paragraph. A simple sentence becomes a night mare. The English language fallows very few rules and the ones that they teach are usually broken, leaving us with learning disabilities  hanging. With mountains of words that make us confused, unable to sound out, with no pattern to fallow the Dyslexic/ Dysgraphic is left to tricks and basic rules of grammar to try to share in your world  . So as you could expect reading and writing becomes a monumental tasks of trying to decode the images into readable sentences. It takes forever for me to write on paper.I never even share my grocery list if possible because the spelling is so bad most people would never find what I was looking for. Just think how you spell spaghetti. Well I do not spell it like that! We here at home just laugh and go on with our shopping.

Some how I was fortunate enough to learn to read,the letters do not jumble when I see them just when I recall them from memory. I discovered in school that I could tell you about the story and I could draw pictures of what I had read but could not repeat what the author had done and write about the story they had created. It was exhausting to try to recall all the words and how to spell them and all the rules of writing. I spent my entire education in spectacle education classes until my second year in college. Then I discovered that typing my papers was so much easier than hand writing them. My brain discovered a different pathway with a keyboard and it was easier, not perfect but better. My body memory kicks in and I only think of a word and I type it almost correctly.

Isis drawing done during the worst of high school 1987

Isis drawing done during the worst of high school 1987

I have heard that a person must do an activity about 52 times to commit it to memory…. what if that never happens. What if you can never remember something no matter how many times you see, hear or act out something. That is the challenge, to continue to repeat things again and again well over 52 times to memorize them. The language decoder in my brain is faulty and non-repairable.  I work around the words and letters that give me the hardest time. Some times that means using a totally different word or trying, 4 different spellings of the same word. Thank God for spell check on the Word Press site this has given me a way to correct most of the misspellings and some of the grammar errors.

Most Dyslexic/Dysgraphics are also kinetic learners, meaning that they learn through physical movement rather than reading or through hearing. This leads to most of us being thought of as ADD/ADHD although I was never thought of as hyper until I was an adult. I am like some many others with this disability, happiest when on the move or working with my hands. I discovered Art young and used it to pacify my anger and frustration at school and the learning systems that did not work for me. So I excelled with art, reading and public speaking but still struggled with writing my own papers and speeches. It was later in college that I found that I actually liked writing.I love doing research on Art history and loved the idea of at some point sharing an artist statement with the world. I loved books and reading so I knew that I wanted find a way to share words in a more artistic way but just didn’t see how at the time. This was 1999 and blogging was not something I would have even known about.

15 years pass and I am still struggling to find jobs that don’t focus too much on writing skills. I have sold furniture, done interior decorating, worked in retail and now do merchandise audits from retail chains. I worked on our farm and others and love it, but something was missing. Sharing and creating something of my own was a major part of my daily life. I had spent 4 years in college to learn more ways to create and at home on the farm their was nothing but work. I could have made artist books, painted or worked on my drawings. But the truth is that I had a hard time dealing with the distractions I faced as a mom and farm worker.  The supplies for painting are expensive, and the thing I loved most was engraving and a press was about an hours drive away and taking a 4-year-old into a studio full of caustic chemicals, acids and inks was not a great idea.

engraving of big horn sheep during last years of collage 1998

engraving of big horn sheep during last years of college 1998

Then a friend started a blog and I began to read more and more blogs and it seemed to me that I could do just about anything with a blog floor mat. Their were poetry blogs, cooking blogs, political blogs and even cartoon and artist blogs. I thought that even though I can not spell, I can share what it is I love through all of the options bloggers have. I can take photos, I can write poetry, tell stories and cook and share them, so why wouldn’t I want to have one of my own. The spelling and technical aseptic are all secondary to creating. Creating a world of my own is why I fight to write.  I know it really makes no sense at all, that I would spend  hours every week doing the one thing that is hardest for me. I guess my only answer is that I love a good challenge.

I am in no way saying this is a competition with others. It is a competition with myself, with the inner demons who tries to put me down, saying that what I do is not good enough. This is who I fight, the same self loathing and judgments that any creative person fights. I challenge myself as some athletes challenge themselves, to work harder, reach farther and do your best.  This kind of challenge is good for the soul and I can’t wait to see where it takes me!

Categories: About me, Art, blogging, Drawing, dyslexia, education, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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